The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education is raising concerns about legislation proposed in Congress and passed by legislators (but awaiting the governor's signature) in New Jersey that would require colleges to have policies to bar cyber-bullying, among other forms of harassment. The federal and state proposals are named for Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who killed himself after images of his encounter with a man were allegedly broadcast. FIRE issued a statement arguing that there are existing laws to punish those who invade students' privacy (as in the Clementi case) or who engage in harassment, and that the new legislation would create "a hopelessly vague standard that will be a disaster for open debate and discourse on campus."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Students at several Texas colleges have started hunger strikes with the aim of convincing Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican, to support the DREAM Act when it comes up for an expected Senate vote next week, The San Antonio News-Express reported. The legislation would create a path to citizenship for many students who came to the United States at young ages with their parents, without legal authorization, and have been educated in the United States. The hunger strike started at the University of Texas at San Antonio and has spread to involve students at UT campuses at Austin, Dallas, Arlington, Brownsville and Edinburg and also at the University of North Texas.
Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism has for some years been debating how to reflect changes in journalism -- with some calling for more marketing-related programs and others resisting that push. Now comes word that the Medill faculty has voted to change its name to the Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications. (Yes, there is no "and" in the name.) Northwestern's board would need to approve a change. Some of the early reviews are harsh. One alumnus created a new Twitter hashtag (ashamedalum) to post this comment: "Medill, 'integrated marketing' is the kind of bullshit jargon your teachers should be editing out." The blog of the Chicago Reader managed to note the criticism of the new name while also teasingly suggesting that the old name might have been "Medill School of Jurassic Technology Journalism."
The University of Cape Town, once an institution of apartheid, is having an intense debate over the use of affirmative action in admissions, The New York Times reported. Supporters and defenders both cite statistics and ethics. Those who favor affirmative action note that even with admissions help, white students outnumber black students at Cape Town two-to-one in a country where 79 percent of the population is black and 9 percent is white. Others note graduation rates. Just over half of black students graduate in five years, while four of five white students do so.
A class action charges that the University of Miami discriminates against minority job candidates by conducting credit checks on prospective hires. The suit charges that this policy is a form of illegal discrimination because members of some minority groups are more likely than white people to have had credit problems, but that these issues have no relevance on many jobs. The lead plaintiff says she was offered a job as a senior medical collector at the university but was told -- after quitting her previous position -- that a credit check meant she could not take the position. The Associated Press reported that university officials declined to comment.
Despite a steady stream of calls from faculty groups and others to curb athletic spending, some states can't seem to get enough college football. Georgia is celebrating the more than respectable showing this year of the debut football team at Georgia State University -- as other universities move along a similar path of creating teams. Mercer University announced that it will resume competition in football in 2013, after an absence of 70 years. And while no final decision has been made at Kennesaw State University, a student referendum last week that backed a new fee for football advanced a push for the sport at that institution.
Opponents of for-profit colleges were surprised -- and perplexed -- when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a government watchdog group, joined in a chorus of criticism of Congressional Democrats' tactics in investigating the commercial higher education providers. Late last week, they seized on news reports saying that the group's director, Melanie Sloan, was leaving to work with Lanny Davis, the former Clinton administration official who has been among those at the center of the Washington defense of the for-profit sector.
Alan Garcia, president of Peru, announced on Friday that Yale University has committed to return a collection of artifacts from Machu Picchu in early 2011 -- possibly ending years of negotiations and legal threats over the pieces, which were taken by a Yale team that excavated the area a century ago. Peru has long disputed Yale's assertions that the artifacts were taken legally. While some of Peru's past statements about Yale have criticized the university, Friday's announcement contained some praise. "The Peruvian government welcomes this decision and recognizes that Yale University preserved these artifacts, which otherwise would have ended up scattered in private collections around the world or would have even disappeared. We also acknowledge the studies that have been made along all these years," the statement said.
Yale issued a statement Sunday night in which it confirmed the agreement. "Yale University is pleased and proud to have reached an accord with the Government of Peru which is now in the stage of being formalized. Under it, as an expression of good will and in recognition of the unique importance that Machu Picchu has come to play in the identity of the modern Peruvian nation, Yale will return, over the next two years, the archaeological materials excavated by Hiram Bingham III at Machu Picchu nearly a century ago. Those pieces suitable for museum display will be sent in time for the centennial celebration commemorating the scientific discovery of Machu Picchu by the Yale-Peruvian Scientific Expedition of 1911."
The statement continued: "Yale is particularly pleased that President Alan Garcia has requested the University of Cusco to receive and be the depository of the objects, and in that way it will serve as the new academic home and context for the collection. Yale looks forward to concluding an agreement with the University of Cusco to establish the collaborative arrangements for a new museum and research center that will carry out programs of research, educational exchanges, and public exhibitions. This collaboration will ensure that Yale's values in conserving the collection, studying the material and disseminating new knowledge will be extended in a new phase, and in a spirit of friendship with the people of Cusco and the nation of Peru."
A campaign has started to bring a tribal college to California, which hasn't had one since D-Q university lost accreditation and closed, The Sacramento Bee reported. The effort is being led by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, which has funds available because it runs the Cache Creek Casino Resort. Nineteen tribes in California have endorsed the effort.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick is worried about the fairness of a search for the next University of Massachusetts system president, in which the front-runner is apparently Martin Meehan, a former member of Congress who is chancellor of the UMass campus at Lowell, The Boston Globe reported. Two leaders of the university board will defend the search process and try to reassure the governor about the search in a meeting today.